Tea ~ Almond Joy
Last night before going to sleep, I told Greg that today was going to be my Sabbath. Because it certainly did not happen on Saturday, Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. Or today even. I intended to get up at 8:30 or 9 and go to a 10:30am yoga class. I woke up at 11:15! I couldn’t believe it. I guess I really needed the rest. At about noon-thirty, Greg came into the kitchen and hugged me and peeked over my shoulder as I was on my computer…working. He threatened to take away my computer and my phone today and supervise me in my observance of the Sabbath I had scheduled for myself. I laughed and avoided eye contact because that very well might need to happen one of these times. You would think that as someone who does not have to punch a time clock and is a volunteer Communications Director for an anti-human trafficking organization and a domestic goddess of our home that I would have more free time to do the things that I “wanted” to do like knitting, reading, watching tv, but this is not the case. At least not for me.
I am probably the most doing of doers of most people you know. In fact, I am such a doer that writing a new blog update has been on my to do list for the last 2 weeks and I am just now getting to it on my Sabbath. And believe me, I’ve been dying to because I really enjoy it! But sitting down and writing one of these probably takes me 2 hours. Almost everything I do is and has to be well thought out. That takes planning and scheduling.
But, you see, I have a disease. And that disease is sin. And that sin is making achievement and success an idol in my life. And there is a LOT that could be achieved in this life. Daily, hourly, every minute of every day. In fact, I once took a class over again in college that I received a B+ in so I could graduate with a 4.0. It is a temptation in every second and every breath God has given me. Achievement should not be confused with busyness, but achievement does create busyness and that is a brilliant way for Satan to distract me from knowing and resting in where my true worth and identity come from.
“The devil plays on what is already in you. He can’t make a person evil, he makes a flawed person worse. For every 1 look to your sin, you need to take 5 looks to your Savior.” – Timothy Keller
My very first post was Worth(less) and worth is something I have to humble myself in daily and root myself in God’s Word and Christ’s sacrifice to make me perfect and blameless or my life will go up in smoke. There will be meltdowns and feelings of inadequacy and guilt for not having done enough or guilt for enjoying things like reading and knitting and watching tv. It paralyzes me from being able to encourage others and being confident in the TRUTH. Which is that God loves me. And the things that I do cannot add to or subtract from that. That is unconditional love that I will probably never comprehend, but that I will spend the rest of my life trying to.
That doesn’t seem like such a big deal, right? But we love others in the way that we understand love. And if I understand love as a series of tasks that are either done or not done, how do you think that manifests itself in my relationships? I was reading through a list of questions to accompany studying Scripture in my quiet time about a month ago and they included things like, “When did you feel the most love today?” “When did you give the most love today?” “When did you feel the least loved today?” And it really hit me that every single one of those answers had to do with an action. Either I did or did not do something to show love, or my husband did something to show love or I felt unloved by something he did not do. That’s not really a good thing. When my day can be made or broken by what others do or don’t do for me.
We often joke about how different our love languages are. We don’t share a love language (there are 5 typical ones that include: giving & receiving gifts, acts of service, words of affirmation, physical touch and quality time). Because we don’t share a love language, I have to attempt to love Greg in a way that he understands and receives it and the same for him with me. These are not only ways we feel love, but also temptations for an idol and something we find our worth and identity in. Greg’s are words of affirmation and physical touch. He loves kudos and people encouraging him verbally in what he is doing and he is so compassionate with others. He loves hugs and cuddles and is SO much fun to watch with our niece and friends’ kids. I adore these things in him. Mine are acts of service and quality time. It has been challenging to love my husband in the way he understands love in our 9 years together, 5.5 of them married. One hilarious scenario we often find ourselves in includes Greg reading or watching tv in the evening and me either making dinner or cleaning up afterwards (acts of service) and being almost finished when Greg looks up and says, “You’re doing a great job!” And my internal voice says, “Then get up and help me!” I typically do not understand words. They are nearly meaningless when an action could take place. As long as what I am doing is not completely unappreciated or disrespected, I will be your work horse. Unfortunately, that lends itself to being taken advantage of which then leads me to feel unappreciated and my confidence and worth plummets.
I had a few dozen of these dots describing what I love about Greg & put them on the bottom of hershey kisses, one for each day counting down to our wedding. I found them again recently and showed him. He rubbed these 3 pages on his face basking in the encouragement.
Another spin on the same scenario is when Greg remembers to be action-oriented with me and says (when I’m nearly done with making dinner or cleaning up), “Can I help you?” And at that point, I’ve done 90% of the work and I think, “Oh no you don’t…you’re not going to swoop in at the 11th hour and do 30 seconds of work to get all the warm and fuzzy feelings of completing a project (something I thrive on).” We affectionately refer to that as “glory stealing.” Greg always has the best of intentions. But love requires action. Isn’t that what dating is all about? A series of dinners and coffee dates, movies and quality time together. I love quality time! I will put down all of the acts of service for quality time and do nothing and be ok with it.
What do you think were the love languages of Jesus? We use all of them, just in varying degrees. He came to serve and not be served, he performed the most selfless act of service on the cross once and for all. He gave the ultimate gift of forgiveness of sins past, present and future. He commands us to make disciples, molding them to be more like Him. He spent quality time with Mary while Martha missed out.
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you carethat my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
Are you a Mary or a Martha? Are any of your love languages something that is defining you, making or breaking your day, causing you to judge others or become bitter or angry for doing or not doing, verbally encouraging you or not, giving you gifts or not, spending quality time with you or not or showing physical affection or not? If any of these are you (and most likely one of them is or God has freed you from it and I praise Him for that!), then you are finding your worth in something other than Christ. You are putting that one thing on the throne only meant for Jesus and making it an idol in your life as I have done with success, achievement and acts of service. But I need to be a doer of the Word like in James 1:22 and stop deceiving myself. I can’t earn my salvation or favor from God.
“He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5
And these love languages, while helpful, are fleeting too. They are an addiction with a very temporary fix, leaving you to look for the next hit to make you feel like you matter and have worth and a purpose. They are a shell that you are allowing to define you and contain you like a cocoon contains a butterfly and you are unable to experience the fullness and freedom that God has to offer.
A Viceroy Butterfly mimics a Monarch Butterfly as a way to ward off predators. They look nearly identical. Fascinating creation by God. Click here to read more.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
The good news is, we can be free of this! God is making all things new. We can love others unconditionally and allow others to love us unconditionally and not just in the way that we comprehend love with our “languages” and on our own terms. We can open our hands and give them to the Lord and stop allowing Satan to use the things we are good at to also break us and make us feel worthless, distracting us from the true love and assurance that can only come from and in Christ.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
I gave up earning a paycheck in 2012 and making a career a focus in my life because it was an idol. I have torn down the foundation I was living on and this year will be a time to rebuild on a firm foundation. My challenge and theme in 2013 is to REST in God. I’ll be reading through the Bible for the 2nd time and this time, chronologically. I’ll be praying for and seeking peace and joy in my heart and an outpour of love and thankfulness for others. I hope you will join me. Let me know how I can be praying for you too!